Heart disease

Heart disease is used to describe any disorder of the heart that affects the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system. Heart disease is also coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease or merely a cardiovascular disease. Heart disease may lead to myocardial infarction commonly known as heart attack, ischemia, stroke, sudden cardiac arrest or congestive heart failure.

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Heart disease Symptoms

Heart disease can have unnoticeable symptoms or may have mild or severe symptoms depending on the extent of the disease. The symptoms of heart disease include the following.

  • Typical chest pains especially in the center of the chest mostly occurring during stress.
  • Atypical chest pain that is sharp and is not related to stress especially on the right and the left side of the chest, back, abdomen and arms.
  • Dyspnea commonly referred to as shortness of breath may result in swelling of the feet and legs due to reduced blood and oxygen flow to the heart.
  • Heart attack that is a result of blocked coronary arteries caused by built up plaques.

Heart disease Causes

Heart disease causes can be un-modifiable. Some heart disease cases exist that cannot be changed or modifiable, while others are controllable with better lifestyle and medications as mentioned below.

  • Un-modifiable causes include genetic inheritance from a family member with heart disease.
  • Modifiable causes include: hypertension commonly known as high blood pressure
  • obesity due to excess fats in the body
  • depression due to stress
  • diabetes
  • smoking tobacco or cigarettes
  • hypercholesterolemia especially if your level of 'bad' cholesterol (LDL) is high and 'good' cholesterol is low (HDL)
  • Abnormal high heart rate turbulence especially in older people
  • Excess weight has been said to be one of the leading causes of heart disease

Heart disease Diagnosis

It is common for your doctor to perform a physical exam during a test to diagnose your heart disease. You can answer questions about your personal medical history or that of your family. Blood and chest X-ray tests are also performed to diagnose for heart disease. The following tests may be a part of your heart disease diagnosis.

  • Echocardiogram- This is an ultrasound of your chest that gives details of your heart's function and structure using an image.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)- Records electrical signals to detect any irregularities in your heart.
  • Hotel monitoring- Further detects heart abnormalities that could not be found by an ECG exam.
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT)- Scan that checks for heart problems using X-ray images.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- Uses magnetic field to produce pictures that can help evaluate your heart.

Heart disease Treatment

Treatment options for heart disease may vary depending on the extent of the condition and how evident the symptoms are. Mild cases of heart disease can be controlled through lifestyle changes while the severe cases are usually treated with medication and surgery as mentioned below.

  • Coronary angioplasty- a surgery used to treat severe heart disease by eliminating blockages in coronary arteries.
  • Diet modification- Eating a well-balanced diet with low-cholesterol and lots of fruits and vegetables will help maintain a healthy body and prevent heart disease.
  • Regular exercise is essential for a healthy body.
  • HMG-CoA- A drug used to lower cholesterol levels.
  • Antiplatelets- Drugs that reduce the risk for blood clots.
  • Nitrates- Improve blood flow because they dilate the coronary artery.

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